(...) For instance, a "G. D." stands at the top of a list with the names of 54,000 Greek citizens who relocated major assets abroad between 2009 and 2011. The list stems from the Greek central bank and is now in the hands of the Finance Ministry.
It is the longest of four lists that are currently circulating in Athens. Each contains the names of people whose financial circumstances -- bank balances and real estate holdings -- do not correspond at all with what they claimed on their tax returns. But hardly anything is being done about it. The Greek reality is sometimes paradoxical: While the governing coalition was busy squabbling with international creditors over how many hundreds of euros can still be trimmed from teachers' and nurses' paychecks, and Athens continued slashing employee pensions, wealthy Greeks moved billions abroad with relative impunity.
The odyssey of the "Lagarde list," as it's known, exemplifies the typically lax attitude toward tax criminals. For many months, it was thought to be lost, but then it resurfaced in early October. Now, the public prosecutor for financial crimes has a copy. It lists 1,991 Greek owners of Swiss bank accounts, and reportedly includes many prominent individuals from the realms of politics, business and culture.
List Goes Missing
The story of this list primarily illustrates the unwillingness of politicians to do anything to improve the situation. In the autumn of 2010, Christine Lagarde, who was still the French finance minister at the time, gave her Greek counterpart Giorgos Papakonstantinou a digitalized list of bank accounts with information on Greek customers at the HSBC Bank in Switzerland. The accounts contained a total of some €1.5 billion. While the French state was using this list to help collect half a billion euros from its own tax offenders, the Greeks showed little interest in attempting a similar initiative (...)